Panzer 61

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Panzer 61
Pz 61 Seite - Schweizer Armee - Steel Parade 2006.jpg
Type Medium Tank
Place of origin   Switzerland
Service history
In service 1965 - 1994
Used by Switzerland
Production history
Designed 1950s
Manufacturer Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun
Produced 1965 - 1967
Number built 150
Specifications
Weight 39 tonnes
Length 9.45 m (31 ft 0 in)
Width 3.06 m (10 ft 0 in)
Height 2.72 m (8 ft 11 in)
Crew 4

Armour up to 120mm RHA
Main
armament
1 x 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 with 56 rounds
Secondary
armament
2 x 7.5mm Swiss Machine Gun with 3200 rounds
Engine Mercedes-Benz 8 cylinder V diesel engine
630 hp
Suspension bellville washer
Ground clearance 400 mm
Operational
range
250 km (160 mi)
Speed 55 km/h (31 mph)

The Panzer 61 was a Swiss Cold War era medium tank. The tank had a weight of 36.5 tons and was powered by a 630 hp diesel engine which gave it a top road speed of 31 mph (50 kph).[1] The primary armament of the Panzer 61 was a 105 mm main gun.

History[edit]

Panzer 61 at the Tank Museum in Thun, Switzerland
Swiss Panzer 61 MBT in Yad La-Shiryon Museum, Israel.

During the early 1950s the Swiss Army tried to buy modern tanks to reinforce the armoured forces which, due to the war in Korea, proved to be impossible. As a stop-gap solution, the army bought AMX-13 light tanks from France and decided to start the development of a Swiss-built main battle tank.

This led to a vehicle called Panzer 58. This tank had most of the characteristics of the later Panzer 61 with the exception of its main gun. The Panzer 58 was fitted with a British Ordnance QF 20 pounder.[2] The Swiss Army took delivery of 10 preproduction models. In 1961 the parliament decided to buy 150 of the improved Panzer 61 which were delivered between 1965 and 1967, produced at the Eidgenoessische Konstruktionswerkstaette (today RUAG Land Systems) facility at Thun.[3]

In the years from 1967 to 1994 (when the last Panzer 61 battalion was re-equipped with more modern tanks) the tank underwent a series of changes and improvements which brought it very close to the standard of the Panzer 68 (its successor). Among many other changes, the original and characteristic 20 mm secondary gun was replaced by an additional machine gun in a coaxial turret mount. This last development step was called Panzer 61 AA9.

The chassis was used as the basis of the early stage of planning for the Tank gun 68 and the prototype of the Entpannungspanzer 65 armoured recovery vehicle[1] and for the initial prototype of the Brückenlegepanzer 68.[4] Wheels and tracks from the Panzer 61 were also used on the Zielfahrzeug 68.

In popular culture[edit]

Two Panzer 61 tanks were mocked up as Panzer III tanks in the film, Enemy at the Gates. These replicas would be re-used in All the Queen's Men and Defiance.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Chant, Christopher (1987). A Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware. Routledge. pp. p.10. ISBN 0-7102-0720-4. 
  2. ^ Ford, Roger (1997). The World's Great Tanks from 1916 to the present day. Brown Packaging Books Ltd. p. 121. ISBN 1-897884-29-X. 
  3. ^ http://www.janes.com/extracts/extract/jaa/jaa_0067.html
  4. ^ http://www.janes.com/extracts/extract/jmvl/jmvl0200.html

External links[edit]